WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - School threats are on the rise across the nation.
Kirk Wolfe has been a juvenile probation officer since the ‘80s. Back then he used to deal with kids in gangs. “When you're dealing with a kid that's involved in gang activity you knew it. You could see it on their outward appearance,” he said.
But things are different now, when it comes to what seems to be a growing threat of school shooters. “They don't have those outward appearances of being ‘a delinquent’. They are not typically using drugs, staying out late at night, running the streets…,” he said.
But, when they make a school threat, their words are not taken lightly. “The consequences of them following through with what they say they are going to do are serious. People die,” Wolfe stated.
The number of threats kids in Wichita County have made have increased in the last couple of years.
The number of charges for a terroristic threat is at 19 so far this year, double the amount in 2017 and already more than all of 2018.
Wolfe says when a student is sent to them for making a threat, they look into things like the student's behavior, do home visits, and sometimes even perform a psychological evaluation.
He said most do not pose serious danger. “But there are those times where we get those cases that require more diligent investigation,” Wolfe said.
If it is determined the student is a serious threat, it can lead to them to being sent to an alternative school and can even mean they will be on probation until they become a legal adult.
In the last month Nocona ISD, Petrolia ISD, Seymour ISD and Wichita Falls ISD have all had to investigate school threats.
Three of those investigations have led to arrests.
One of them at Wichita Falls High School WFISD Superintendent Michael Kuhrt said, “We investigate every threat as if it's a legitimate threat until we determine that it's not.”
Kuhrt has said while most of the time there are no serious safety issues with the district’s students, the possibility of the unthinkable happening has caused them to up security measures and train staff on active shooting situations.
It has also led to parents calling on the school board to take further action such as installing metal detectors at each school.
Kuhrt said it is something they have considered but have not implemented for several reasons including funds, the challenges that would come with trying to install them in aging buildings, and the impact it would have on students.
“Trying to fortify a school, it requires a different set of parameters. Everybody’s experience there would change if they had to walk through a metal detector,” Kuhrt stated.